Laurie Santos greeted her Yale University students with slips of paper that explained: No class today.
It was mid-semester, with exams and papers looming, everyone exhausted and stressed. There was one rule: They couldn’t use the hour and a quarter of unexpected free time to study. They had to just enjoy it.
Nine students hugged her. Two burst into tears.
Santos, a professor of psychology, had planned to give a lecture about what researchers have learned about how important time is to happiness. But she had created a singular class, on the psychology of living a joyful, meaningful life. And she wanted the lessons to stick. All semester, she explained why we think the way we do. Then, she challenged students to use that knowledge to change their own lives.
So canceling class was not just a break, it was an immersion. And it was a provocation: She was asking them to stop worrying about grades, even if only for an hour
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